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Vote To Help Huntsville Win An Urban Orchard

by: countrycat

Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 10:00:00 AM CDT

Here's hoping this is an idea that gets replicated in every single community: urban orchards.  Huntsville is seeking a grant to establish a community fruit orchard.  The crop will be distributed to several non-profit agencies that work with the poor and elderly in the community.community orchards

Huntsville hopes to be one of 17 U.S. cities chosen to receive a starter fruit orchard through the Communities Take Root program.

Sponsors EDY's Fruit Bars and the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation say the winners will be chosen through an online vote which begins Monday at communitiestakeroot.com. You can help Huntsville's bid by voting daily through May 30.

Apples, figs, pears, berries... it sounds like a veritable Eden planted on vacant land.   What a great idea!

Please consider helping Huntsville win this grant - only 17 communities will be chosen in the first round.  Vote today - and every day - at CommunitiesTakeRoot.com.


Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Celebrate "The Year of Alabama Food"

by: countrycat

Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 16:00:00 PM CST

The Alabama Department of Tourism has a terrific Web site that celebrates Alabama's chefs, food traditions, and strengthens the local food movement:  The Year of Alabama Food.  It's a beautiful site that contains profiles of Alabama chefs, recipes, guide to farmers markets, and the very interesting "Farm to Table Blog." Year of Alabama food

I particularly enjoyed this post:  Five Reasons To Buy From Local Farmers:

Self-sufficient family farms are the foundation of our rural communities. Communities benefit from the local farmers as they purchase their goods from local merchants and provide jobs that enhance the local economy.

There's also a section with mouthwatering photos on famous dishes (including banana pudding!) as well as a recipe section that had me updating the family's weekly grocery list.

Check out the site and recommend it to your non-Alabama friends.  We get so much (deserved) bad press, it's really nice to have something that gives Alabama some good publicity!


Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Terri Sewell Urges More Local (and REAL!) Food in School Lunches

by: mooncat

Mon Nov 21, 2011 at 14:00:00 PM CST

The same week that Congress declared pizza a vegetable to placate the frozen food industry, Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell was proposing changes to US farm policy to get more fresh, locally grown food into school lunches.  Thank God somebody in Congress is exercising common sense!

In a letter to the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Sewell proposed giving schools the option to use a portion of their Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) school lunch commodity dollars to purchase local and regional foods. This would involve...

... adding a subsection to the end of Section 6(c) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to establish a “local food credit program” that allows schools to use an amount equal to 15 percent of their commodity dollars for purchases of local and regional foods.

It's common sense to let schools serve local food when it's available, but don't you know Big Agra will fight tooth an nail against letting schools buy even 15% of their lunches from local suppliers. 

Why?  Because when produce goes directly from local producers to schools, BigAgra doesn't get to take their cut off the top.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Food Safety Is A Public Health & National Security Issue

by: countrycat

Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 12:00:00 PM CDT

If we had terrorists loose in this country who killed 3,000 people each year, the GOP would be going nuts.  But what's their response to the estimated 3,000 people who die annually from tainted food?  Michelle Bachmann suggests eliminating all food safety laws and other GOP proposals would gut food inspection and enforcement.  As Think Progress reported earlier this year:

Under the House Republicans’ proposal to reduce non-defense discretionary spending, the FDA’s $2.3 billion budget (which makes up a whopping 0.07 percent of the overall federal budget) will be reduced by 20 percent, imperiling the jobs of 3,000 inspectors.

And that’s child’s play compared to the 40 percent hit the FDA would be in for under the House Republican Study Committee’s spending plan, or the 62 percent cut it would see under Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) budget. In a final kicker, Republicans are also threatening to defund the recently passed Food Safety Modernization Act, which boosts the inspection abilities of the FDA, even though it will actually save taxpayers money in the long run.

Each year, 48 million Americans get sick from contaminated food.  Now, some of this is undoubtedly due to thawing the chicken on the kitchen counter or not putting the egg salad back in the cooler.  Those missteps affect individuals or small groups. 

The bigger issue though is source contamination at large farms and/or processing plants.  Just look at recent events:

All this happened by accident.  What if someone really tried to disrupt food distribution and contaminate the food supply?

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 775 words in story)

A Not-So-Sweet Story of Tainted Honey

by: countrycat

Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 06:00:00 AM CDT

Just how "pure" is that honey in your kitchen cabinets?  Like most agricultural products, honey is big business.   Recent allegations that Chinese honey tainted with heavy metals & antibiotics is flooding the US market is a concern - & one more reason to buy local honey whenever you can!

Food Safety News writes about the practice of "honey laundering:"

Food safety investigators from the European Union barred all shipments of honey from India because of the presence of lead and illegal animal antibiotics.  Further, they found an even larger amount of honey apparently had been concocted without the help of bees, made from artificial sweeteners and then extensively filtered to remove any proof of contaminants or adulteration or indications of precisely where the honey actually originated. 

This comes a year after the US supposedly cracked down Chinese honey smuggling rings:

Patrick Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, cautioned that while the honey was tainted with antibiotics that are not approved by US regulators for use in honey production, there was no reason for the public to "panic."

"There is no allegation and no reason to believe that any of the honey involved in this case had led to any injury or illness," he told reporters, adding that the bulk of the imported honey was of a commercial grade and would have been diluted before it reached consumers.

"Diluted."  Feel safer now?

Much of this honey was shipped through India in an effort to disguise its country of origin, although the presence of antibiotics in Indian-produced honey has been a source of concern in that country:

"Antibiotics in honey will reach the bacteria in our guts and sustained long-term exposure to tiny doses of antibiotics is the perfect recipe for drug resistance," Virdi told The Telegraph.

The CSE said it detected antibiotics in samples of honey sold by Dabur, Himalaya, Mehsons, Patanjali, Baidyanath, Khadi, Himflora, Gold and Umang. Samples of one Indian brand — Hitkari — did not reveal any antibiotics.

That's one reason that European Union banned imports of honey from India, although the US is still importing it:

FSN points to shipping data from Aug. 12 tracking the route of some 688,000 pounds of honey from the Chinese port of Nansha in Guangzhou, China, to Little Bee Honey, an exporter in India, over the previous month. Within the previous week, shipping documents showed that six shipments of honey, with the same identification numbers as honey shipped from China, had gone from Little Bee to Los Angeles.

Buying local food whenever possible helps protect your health, enriches our local economy, and increases food diversity.  Insist on local honey and purchase raw honey whenever possible. 
North Carolina is one several states to regulate the marketing of honey inside the state:

Consumers unknowingly purchase honey which is has been altered in some way, and is no longer considered to be pure honey. 

The honey standards board has set up new measures to curb unscrupulous sellers from selling adulterated honey. Honey is considered to be adulterated, or fake, if any product has been added to it prior to the sale of the honey.

"Raw" honey is honey that hasn't been heated and has no additives.  You can often purchase this from your local honey producers.  Why buy honey from China or even from across the country when Alabama beekeepers can provide the real thing at a low cost?

Find Alabama beekeepers and learn more about local beekeeping at the Alabama Beekeepers Web site.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)



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